Clemson won the National Title last season, but so far, the start to the 2017 campaign may be better than last year for the Tigers. No one has challenged them en route to their undefeated record and none of their upcoming opponents will likely change that. Clemson opened as -21.5 point home favorites against Wake Forest this Saturday (as seen at 5Dimes Sportsbook).
Considering Clemson won this Game 35-13 on the road last year, this line looks a bit small. The Tigers dominated on both sides of the field and Deshaun Watson wasn’t asked to do too much. They ran for 254 yards as a team and held the Demon Deacons to 197 total yards. With this year’s Clemson defense looking even more dominant, there’s a question if Wake will be able to reach double digits in this meeting.
The Tigers had a legit test against Virginia Tech last week and held the Hokies to just three points in the first three quarters before things opened up and the home team made it slightly more competitive. As long as Clemson doesn’t take its foot off the pedal, this should be a similar result to last year’s meeting.
Clemson maybe isn’t as good offensively with Kelly Bryant at quarterback, but he’s been just fine in leading this team to wins. And while Bryant has only three passing TDs to three INTs, he’s still completing 66.2% of his passes. Throw in a ground Game that’s been dominant on 5.4 yards per carry and that’s all this team needs. The Tigers have rushed for 19 touchdowns with seven of them coming from Bryant, who leads the team in rushing yards.
The Deacons have a solid defense, but weren’t solid enough to stop Florida State from winning its first Game last week. The worrying thing is that the Seminoles top two RBs ran for 178 yards in that Game and there could be a repeat of that in this one. Wake still racked up a few sacks and that kept the Game close, but that may not be an issue with the mobile Bryant under center. And if Wake can’t stop the Clemson ground Game, this one should go similar to last year’s result.
For Wake Forest to cover, it will require scoring a couple touchdowns, which isn’t a guarantee. Clemson’s defense has had zero issues in the early Games, from holding LAmar Jackson in check to stopping Josh Jackson to 17 points last week. Wake is getting better QB play out of John Wolford this season, but he still hasn’t seen a defense at this level. His biggest threat also happens to be his legs as he leads the team with 332 rushing yards, but that’s not a good thing against this Clemson defense. As said, the Tigers have bottled up two other dual-threat QBs from Louisville and Virginia Tech.
The Deacons have looked improved in the early season, but it’s going to take a lot for them to just Score10 points in this one. If they can’t establish the run, that will put too much pressure on Wolford to succeed in the air. The hope for Clemson backers is that they don’t give up any late touchdowns for a late cover in this Game.
Our Pick – Using yards per point as a measuring stick, the Wake Forest defense ranks 11th in the nation, right behind #9 Clemson. Not too shabby. Their offense ranks well also, 32nd overall. Ah yes, but the strength of Schedule simply isn’t there at this point.
Just the same, 3TD’s is a big number and while we’ll rarely play a dog just because we think they can hang within a number, that’s exactly what we are doing here. Clemson wins but Wake covers. Wake Forest +21.5